Hope is not denying what is happening to you right now,  it is the ability to use what is happening to you right now in order to suffer less.  Running away won't take it away.  Instead, trust your strength and goodness.  Cultivate a practice of inner strength by turning to the habits that will make you stronger not weaker.  Know that darkness doesn't mean death.  Darkness can be filled with richness and growth if you know how to use everything that happens to you as nourishment for growth.  Learn to meditate and talk openly and honestly to yourself and others.  Stop hiding behind perfectionism.  It doesn't exist.   You exist just as you are right now and that is enough.

"It may be when we no longer know what to do,

we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go,

we have begun our real journey."

-Wendell Berry 

Go Home

This time of year is all about going home - a physical place that you return to where you feel you belong.  Not everyone has that blessing.  And, although your family may be difficult to be around, they're YOUR family.  Even though there may be disagreements and feuds, the sense of unconditional love takes precedence.   We are wired in our brains to connect with one another.  According to the latest cutting edge neuroscience, our need to connect with people is even more fundamental than our need for food and shelter.  But, what if you find yourself alone during the Holidays?  How can you make this time less painful? Try this:

  •  Start out by not denying your situation.  If you feel melancholy that you weren't invited to join someone's table, allow yourself to feel your feelings.  You have a right to them.  But, maybe you can put a time limit on it.  Tell yourself that you will sulk or cry for one or two hours and then when the time is up, you will pick yourself up and continue with your life.  Don't be afraid of your sadness.  Give it all the room it needs, it will dissolve faster when you don't block it.
  • Connect with yourself.  Don't run away and abandon yourself.    Start off with a body scan.  It is amazing how much fuller you can feel when you get grounded in your body.  Any mindful meditation will help you control negative thoughts.  You can't control whether or not you get invited to someone's home for the Holidays, but you can certainly be proactive with how you handle it. 
  •  Make eye contact.  If the eyes are the windows of the soul, use that to help you feel more connected when you come into contact with people.  Anyone.  It's amazing how satisfying it can feel to be locked in a gaze with someone.  To be seen.  At our very core, we want to be seen, to be gotten.  This can happen with the check out person at the grocery store.  The opportunity to connect is more available than you think.
  • Smile.  The venerable Thich Nhat Hanh says, "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile and sometimes your smile is the source of your joy."  Remember whatever you feed will grow.  If you choose to feed your misery then it will feel bigger inside of you.  But if you take control over how you choose to meet your challenges and choose to feed the positive, then that is what will grow.  
  • Nothing is forever.  Know that everything is continually changing, that is the nature of life.  As bad as you may feel right now, it will pass.  It's just weather.  Even though it may be cloudy and cold, remember that behind those clouds is the ever present Sun waiting to come out and spread its sunshine.




The 90 second rule.

What do you do when you feel that you can't handle what's going on?  Do you look to escape or self-medicate?  Perhaps you go into avoidance or distraction mode.  By not dealing directly with what's on your plate, you are strengthening your fears.  You can find your courage to deal with life in knowing that everything is continuously shifting like the weather.  As you weather the storm within, remember that it will pass eventually.   Brain researcher, Jill Bolte Taylor describes the 90-second rule as, " All emotions last for less than 90 seconds.  If anything continues after  it is because we have added our own story and chosen to hold on to the emotion."  In other words, if you are driving and someone cuts you off on the road and you react angrily, if you let it wash through you it will last for 90 seconds.  If you continue to say to yourself, "Everyone is crazy, it's not safe out there. etc.  etc. "  You don't let the emotion go and make it stick around longer with your thoughts.  If you choose to think about that one driver who cut you off all day long, your bad mood will stick around for that long too.  You don't have control over some of the things that happen to you, but you do have control over how you want to handle it.  Mindfulness meditation can teach you how to let go of unwanted thoughts and stay in the present moment by focusing on your breath.  You can start to train yourself to be more in control of your thoughts so that you have more control over your moods.

New Beginnings

Love is the mansion and fear is just a little room in it.  Every moment holds an opportunity to begin again, to start fresh.  The past is your history, but the future is wide open.  Open up to  possibilities rather than dwelling on limitations.  Make a conscious effort to let go of any limiting self-pity so that you can strive towards being the most excellent version of yourself.